Earnings at Centrica greater than tripled 12 months on 12 months to a document excessive of £3.3bn in 2022, because the power group’s North Sea manufacturing and nuclear energy companies benefited from a surge in fuel and energy costs.
The proprietor of British Fuel, which has just lately been embroiled in a scandal over forcibly putting in costly prepayment meters within the properties of susceptible clients, stated it could develop a £250mn share buyback programme launched final 12 months by an extra £300mn following the outcomes. The share buyback programme is its first since 2014.
Adjusting working earnings greater than tripled final 12 months from £948mn in 2021. Earnings at Centrica’s power buying and selling arm rose twentyfold to £1.4bn in 2022 because it benefited from the market volatility.
The outcomes are more likely to spark additional debate over whether or not power corporations which have made document earnings from excessive wholesale fuel and energy costs ought to be doing extra to assist susceptible households coping with excessive inflation.
George Dibb, head of the Centre for Financial Justice on the think-tank IPPR, stated Centrica’s earnings had been “scandalous” and known as for a tax on share buybacks. “Everyone knows that wholesale power costs have been sky-high for the previous 12 months, however that’s no purpose that fuel suppliers ought to be making greater earnings on the again of upper payments,” Dibb stated. “These earnings, that are then being transferred on to shareholders by way of buybacks and dividends, are a direct switch away from bill-payers throughout a price of residing disaster.”
Centrica chief govt Chris O’Shea insisted that the corporate had invested extra in serving to its clients with hovering power payments than the £8 revenue per buyer it made after tax in its British Fuel Vitality division, which provides households with electrical energy and fuel.
The corporate additionally stated it paid round £1bn in tax for 2022 after the UK authorities final 12 months launched a windfall tax on oil and fuel producers. An identical levy on electrical energy turbines got here into pressure at first of this 12 months.
O’Shea stated: “While clients may even see some aid given latest easing of costs, it stays clear that some will proceed to want assist and we are going to do what we are able to to assist them within the 12 months forward.”
The corporate repeated that it was “extraordinarily upset” by the findings of a latest Instances newspaper investigation that discovered a third-party contractor engaged on British Fuel’s behalf had damaged into susceptible clients’ properties to suit prepayment meters, that are costlier than paying for power payments by direct debit.